Thursday, October 30, 2008

17th District Race

This article in the Kansas City Star highlights a close State Senate race in the Northland area of Kansas City.  State Senator Luanne Ridgeway is under fire from her opponent, Sandra Aust for being a supporter of scholarship tax credits.    Aust incorrectly labels scholarship tax credits as vouchers and takes the status quo approach that more money dumped into the same system will fix the problem.  Aust then goes on to say tax credits are perfectly good ideas for corporations looking to locate in Missouri. 

I would really like to see Mrs. Aust look into the eyes of a parent with a special needs child or a parent who's child is trapped in an unaccredited school and tell them that a big corporation is worth a tax credit but someone trying to help their child is not.   It would be unbelievable, but it is the same worn out approach that opponents of scholarship tax credits have always taken.  I would also like Mrs. Aust to refer to our previous blog dated October 14th that links to an article about a girl who is thriving under Rhode Island's scholarship tax credit program.  After looking at REAL stories about REAL people, instead of the education establishment's talking points, the evidence is clear that scholarship tax credits do help students!  

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thinking Outside of the Board

Something that is necessary for 21st century education reform is to think outside of the box when looking at options to help educate children.  Many skills employed in chess, like strategic thinking, are necessary to be successful in society.  For this reason the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis  can be a great avenue for educating children.  This center opened in July of 2008 and has already garnered great media attention in the community both in print, television and radio media.  

Chess would be a great game to promote in our schools as an educational tool.  Ideas like this is what is needed to transform schools in a 21st century environment.    

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Scholarship Tax Credits Work!

Today I came across an article from the Providence Journal.  The article told the story of a girl who, along with her parents, are refugees in the US from the civil war in Liberia.  After doing poorly in the local school she received a tax credit scholarship to go to a Catholic High School where she thrived.  She is one of 278 students to receive one of the scholarships in the program's first year.  

This scholarship tax credit program in Delaware has many of the same features that previous legislation in Missouri sought to enact.  It is very frustrating that this option is not out there for low income Missouri students who are often trapped in failing and unaccredited schools.  I dare any of the opponents of scholarship tax credits in Missouri, including Jay Nixon, to look this girl and her family in the eyes and tell them that her daughter should not have had this opportunity. 

This is just one example of how scholarship tax credits really work.  They are not always intended to help wealthy kids pay for private school.  They are, in fact, targeted at low income students who can thrive if given the opportunity to move out of the local schools.  Missouri legislators should make this option available to low income and special needs children in Missouri in the 2009 legislative session.   


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Missouri's Education...Worse than I Thought

As a mother of young children, it is impossible for me to stay away from the depressing news of the failures of many of Missouri schools. Being that my children are not yet in school, I may be a little naive on all the facts. I am sure, like many other parents, reading about the lack of education in some of the bigger cities brings a sense of sadness for all those parents. Yet, not living there, I have felt a little secure in my bubble outside the cities. Even though I have always known things could be better here, I never knew how bad they really were. Reading the Missouri Policitical News Service, I came across an op-ed written by Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield, titled "Who Needs Help; K-12 Education in Missouri". Some new facts that may surprise you are: Fact: Most minority students do not go to school in the metro areas. Only 30% of black students go to school in St. Louis or Kansas City. Fact: Most poor performing minority students do not live in Metro areas. 67% of black students testing basic or below go to school outside Kansas City and St. Louis City. Fact: A small percentage of poor performers live in metro areas. Only 10% of all students testing basic or below go to school in Kansas City and St. Louis. Fact: Most poor performing students don’t live in metro areas and are white. Almost 70% of children testing basic or below and living outside St. Louis and Kansas City are white. What does this data mean? That solving the minority, metro problem will only affect less than 6% of students in Missouri. Solving the education problem will require an expanded focus on all schools from the bad to the great. Many minority children do poorly outside the metro areas. Almost half of white students need help. So much emphasis has been placed on the metro areas and not enough on areas outside the cities. While I know it is important for those cities to improve, I also agree with Dr. Sinquefield that the entire state needs improvement. This news definitely gives me the feeling my little bubble has popped and I hope, for the sake of my children and the rest of the children, things are done to improve education for all.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

You Read my Mind!

I was on Missouri Political News Service (MOPNS) today and saw this article defending charter schools and Kenny Hulshof's education plan for Kansas City and St. Louis schools.  It is indeed great to see someone like the Children's Education Council of Missouri promote charter school expansion as a means of education reform in Missouri.  Charter schools provide much needed choice and alternatives to the failing schools in St. Louis and Kansas City.

I am glad that Mr. Simms took the time to fully and accurately explain charters.  Many in the public who rail against charters do not realize that charter schools ARE public schools and often do as well, or better, than traditional district counterparts with much less funding.  They should be expanded into other areas besides St. Louis and Kansas City.  

Hopefully Jay Nixon will get a clue and realize that what parents across the state, especially in KC and St. Louis, need are more education options for their children.  Thanks to Kenny Hulshof for being an advocate for expanding charter schools.           

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Breakfast of Champions

When going down the cereal isle at any grocery store there are hundreds
of different brands to choose from. Why are these companies always
coming out with new flavors, improved ingredients and tempting aesthetic
gimmicks? The answer: COMPETITION. This same marketplace philosophy of
improvement though choice MUST be applied to St. Louis schools. With
parental choice options public schools will be forced to finally begin
must-needed system-wide revamping to maintain students. Private schools
will also be motivated for high-quality achievement in order to entice
local families. With a school choice model, children win. They would
no longer be stuck in failing schools. Some try to argue that school
choice will hurt public schools-which is simply not true! Great schools
will not be affected. (Aren't there still Cheerios and Wheaties?) It
is only the schools that are currently unacceptable that will be forced
to improve. Though the future of our children is obviously an extremely
more important and sensitive subject than breakfast food, today's
economy forces even the most passionate institutions to face this
market-driven society. The bottom-line is: our children deserve a
first-rate education and this is possible using school choice!